Talk radio is a great medium for discussion about issues that matter. From locally produced shows to nationally syndicated programs to satellite and Internet broadcasting, talk radio involves audiences and reaches communities across America. Bringing your voice to the conversation as an in-studio guest makes a big impact. When you have the microphone, you have a real opportunity to engage and persuade others. Once prepared, you’ll be an effective spokesperson capable of answering tough questions and persuading others.
In the world of talk radio, it’s important to remember that respect breeds respect. Civil dialogue is the name of the game. Facts, figures, and targeted messages are worthless if the audience is offended and tuned out. Being an effective in-studio radio guest requires preparation, superior listening skills, and eloquence.
Let us know how you do! We are interested in how our fans are doing in getting the message out about the issues that impact them, so e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know about the show you appeared on.
1. Pitch yourself to the right talk radio show.
It’s wise to start locally. Pick a show that you listen to and a host that you respect. Getting yourself booked requires making the case for your own relevance. What perspective or experience do you bring to the table? If you’re active in local issues, use that to your advantage. If you’re a small-business owner, focus on your experience as a job creator and someone familiar with how business taxes affect your decisions. Have a point of view and stick to what you know.
2. Prepare for your segment.
News of the day often defines discussion topics on talk radio, so make sure to read newspapers and blogs frequently. Specific events are a jumping-off point, but the real skill is being able to bridge the discussion to your key messages. So choose the three main points you want to make on the air and write out your messages. Being prepared means listening, responding, bridging to your message, and being evenhanded.
3. Studio etiquette.
Make sure to wear headphones in the studio. You don’t need to bring them with you; just wear the ones the station provides. Hearing your own voice and your tone helps tremendously. Yes, you do want to be very close to the microphone. No, you don’t need to shout. Shut off the smartphone before you go into the studio. Stay focused on the host and take notes. Caller names and the names of other guests are important—use them.
4. Share your background.
Building credibility on the radio starts with letting people know who you are. Don’t be shy about sharing your personal story. If you served in the military, let people know that’s part of your personal experience. If you’ve been looking for work or are recently back on the job, let people know you understand the human impact of being unemployed or underemployed and bad-economy issues firsthand. Talk radio is a place for real voices and honesty. As an in-studio guest, your unique story is what makes people relate to your insights and listen to your message.
5. Have a sense of humor.
No one likes in-studio guests who take themselves too seriously. When you sit down in the studio, remember to keep things in perspective. If things get heated during the discussion, lighten up the mood with a witty observation or self-deprecating comment. People who can laugh at themselves, or their political party, are often the ones we find most credible and listenable.
6. Know your facts.
When the host or a caller focuses on a specific policy or politician, you need to be ready with basic facts. Go to our website at www.generationopportunity.org to get a feel for some of the key issues on GO or to Being American to read up on the latest news stories and what others think. Make sure you know the names and titles of the major leaders in Congress and where they’re from. If you’re making a comparison to previous legislative issues or fights, know the dates—110th or 111th Congress—and who was President at the time. Political strength is based on balance of power and individual leadership. When you sound confident and knowledgeable, your credibility grows.
7. Practice, practice, practice.
It makes a big difference when you rehearse. Imagine the question from a host in your mind and then give voice to your response. The more time you spend testing yourself—speaking out loud—the better prepared you’ll be when you’re on the air. Hesitation and a shaky voice are dead giveaways on radio that you’re not prepared or confident. As they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
8. Speak in sound bites, not a filibuster.
This may be the most important piece of advice: Don’t take a minute when all you need is 20 seconds. Being an in-studio guest is like playing a game of tennis. The name of the game is keeping the ball in play. The host is in charge, and your job is to be responsive and concise.
9. “In my opinion…”
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so remember to offer your opinion as just that: opinion. It’s fine to disagree with the host or a caller as long as you own your point of view and are civil and respectful. This approach leaves room for consideration on both sides. Persuasion is the art of helping people consider the other side and build a rationale for understanding and supporting your argument.
10. Be prepared to share resources.
As an in-studio guest, you will be in a unique position to share online resources with the audience. Make sure you know which digital channels you want to promote. Web addresses, Facebook pages like Being American, news sites, and YouTube channels are the kinds of things people want to know about. Don’t miss the opportunity to use your commitment and energy to bring other people into the dialogue on the issues that affect all of us.
11. Let people know you’re going to be on the show!
Through Facebook status updates, tweets, texts, or e-mail, let your friends know the details of your upcoming appearance. Post the topics you’re going to discuss on Facebook before the show. Invite friends to call in and join the conversation. There is no substitute for the support and word of mouth that comes with making the most of your in-studio appearance.